Monday, February 9, 2015

The First Principle by Marissa Shrock

I really liked this dystopian novel for older teens taking place in the not to distance future. The U.S. has experienced the Great Collapse and the Second Civil War. The Council of World Peacekeepers had divided North America into seven regions, with territorial governors and a president over all.

But the government structure is not all that has changed. The government, convinced the troubles were caused by too many poor and starving people, has implemented the Posterity Protection and Self-Determination Act. The idea was to control population growth. Underage girls and people with too many kids must terminate pregnancies.

Vivica, daughter of the governor of the Great Lakes Regions, begins a dangerous adventure when she finds out she is pregnant. Her boyfriend, Ben, is distraught. He is a Christian and is totally repentant for his mistake.

Ben has had to hide his faith. Years ago the Peace and Unity Act had “freed” the people from the narrow mindedness of Christianity. The old Judeo-Christian values were seen as bigoted and restrictive. Even the Bible had been cleansed with the Revised Freedom Version being the only authorized Bible allowed. It had been stripped of all restrictive and offensive ideologies.

Ben is also part of an underground rebel group. He asks Vivica to save their unborn child and not succumb to the mandatory termination procedure. But when Vivica's mother finds out about the pregnancy, she will not have it. She is the most likely candidate for the next presidency and will allow nothing to impede her political future. She takes any choice away from Vivica by ordering her bodyguard to take her pregnant daughter to the termination center. Handcuffed, Vivica's future appears certain.

I really liked this novel. Even though it was written for youth, I found it well crafted and full of action. Schrock has created a future that seems very possible given current political trends. Readers will find much to think about in this novel concerning government control and personal freedom.

There is realistic technology for this future era too. Vivica is an accomplished hacker and we experience some of the communication devices and tools used.

I appreciated the way Vivica is portrayed. She is not a mindless teen but intelligently thinks about the political and moral issues at hand. I liked the way she faced the options for her future. Shrock has Vivica develop as a character in a way that is realistic and consistent. Vivica has been raised in a totally secular society. When Ben shares the reality of Christ and gives her an underground copy of the real Bible, she hesitantly thinks about it.

This novel deals with some serious teen issues, like the termination of teen pregnancies and rebellion against government authority. Parents may want to read this novel first or at least be available to discuss it with their teen. The publisher has provided a discussion guide that can be downloaded here.

You can download an excerpt here.

Marissa Shrock is a middle school language arts teacher and works with her audience every day. She's a graduate of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild courses, and is a member of the ACFW. Her articles for teens have been published in Evangel and Encounter. Visit her at www.marissashrock.com.

Kregel Publications, 237 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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